National Legal News

Case Summaries

Injury & Tort Law

[02/22] Doe v. United States Youth Soccer
In a suit for negligence and willful misconduct against soccer league defendants, arising out of the sexual abuse of plaintiff by her former soccer coach, the trial court's judgment sustaining defendants' demurrers to the fourth amended complaint on the ground that they had no duty to protect plaintiff from criminal conduct by a third party and dismissing the defendants is reversed where defendants had a duty to conduct criminal background checks of all adults who would have contact with children involved in their programs.

[02/15] Argentieri v. Zuckerberg
In a defamation suit brought by an attorney for Paul Ceglia throughout Ceglia's lawsuit against Facebook, Inc. and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, the trial court's grant of defendants' motion to strike plaintiff's complaint under the anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) statute, Code Civ. Proc. section 425.16, is affirmed where: 1) although the statement underlying plaintiff's defamation claim was not subject to the litigation privilege of Civil Code section 47(b), it was subject to the fair and true reporting privilege of Civil Code section 47(d); and, thus 2) plaintiff has no probability of prevailing on his claim.

[02/15] Secci v. United Independent Taxi Drivers
In a suit for damages suffered after a motorcycle crash with a driver who was driving a taxi marked defendant's insignia, in which the jury found driver to be defendant's agent, but not an employee, the trial court's grant of defendant's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) under Code of Civil Procedure section 629, finding the evidence insufficient to support the jury's finding that driver was defendant's agent, is reversed and the verdict reinstated where California law does not preclude consideration of controls required by public regulations in finding an agency relationship.

[02/15] Doe v. State of California
In their lawsuit, allege civil rights violations, Civ. Code section 52.1 (Bane Act), negligence, false/wrongful arrest, defamation, and loss of consortium, against the State and City and County of San Diego, because of defendants' causing plaintiff to register as a sex offender through threats of enforcement, maintaining him on California's sex offender registry, and publicly disseminating his name as a registered sex offender, including via the Megan's Law Web site, the trial court's order granting defendants' special motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute, Code of Civ. Proc. section 425.16, is affirmed where: 1) plaintiffs' causes of action arose from protected activity under section 425.16; and 2) plaintiffs did not show a probability of prevailing on their causes of action.

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Labor & Employment Law

[02/23] Brandon v. Maricopa County
In an action brought under 42 U.S.C. section 1983 and state law alleging plaintiff was fired from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office in retaliation for a statement she made to a local newspaper regarding a case she handled for the Maricopa County Sheriff?s Department, the district court?s judgment in favor of plaintiff following jury verdicts and award the attorneys' fee award are reversed and vacated where: 1) as to the tortious interference with contract claim, no reasonable jury could conclude that County risk management officials improperly interfered with plaintiff's employment contract when they requested reassignment of her risk management cases to other lawyers after she made statements to the newspaper; and 2) as to the jury's First Amendment retaliation verdict, with the legally defined scope of an attorney's duties in mind, it was obvious that plaintiff's comments to the newspaper could not constitute constitutionally protected citizen speech under the principles from Dahlia v. Rodriguez, 735 F.3d 1060, 1074-76 (9th Cir. 2013).

[02/23] O'Neal v. Stanislaus County Employees' Retirement Assn.
In a suit brought by members of the retirement system operated by defendant Stanislaus County Employees' Retirement Association (StanCERA) through their retirement board, arguing that defendant's actions -- implementing several changes to the actuarial calculations used to determine how to amortize unfunded liabilities within the system and decision to utilize so-called non-valuation funds, money not used to ensure the overall system was actuarially sound, to reduce or replace required employer contributions -- constituted a breach of the constitutional fiduciary duties placed on the board of a county retirement system, the trial court's grant of summary judgment to defendants is reversed where, although the trial court correctly determined appellants were not entitled to summary judgment, the court erred in determining no material issues of fact remained.

[02/23] Zetwick v. County of Yolo
In an action under Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, in which county correctional officer alleged that the county sheriff created a sexually hostile work environment, the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants is reversed where: 1) a reasonable juror could conclude that differences in the sheriff?s hugging of men and women were not, as the defendants argued, just 'genuine but innocuous differences in the ways men and women routinely interact with members of the same sex and the opposite sex.' and 2) the district court's contrary conclusion may have been influenced by application of incorrect legal standards.

[02/22] Lynn v. Tatitlek Support
In a wrongful death action involving the issue of whether defendant-employer's temporary employee was acting within the scope of his employment when he caused the automobile accident that killed plaintiff, the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant is affirmed on the ground it is undisputed defendant was not vicariously liable for the accident under the doctrine of respondeat superior, as plaintiffs have failed to present evidence supporting these exceptions to the going and coming rule.

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Workers' Comp

[01/20] Metro Machine Corporation v. DOWCP
In a petition for review of an order of the Benefits Review Board affirming decisions of an ALJ granting a claim for medical benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. section 907, the petition is denied where: 1) the only error the ALJ committed was in failing to apply the 'naturally or unavoidably results' standard to the fracture claim; and 2) remand for application of that standard would be a futile exercise, given that there was no issue presented regarding avoidability.

[11/22] Gage v. Workers' Compensation Appeals Board
In a workers' compensation action brought by petitioner, a deputy sheriff who sustained a job-related injury, the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board's decision denying penalties for the unreasonable delay of advance disability pension payments is annulled and remanded where: 1) such payments qualify as compensation under Labor Code section 3207; 2) such penalties available under Labor Code section 5814 are available for unreasonable delay or denial of the payment of compensation; and 3) no other provision of the Labor Code excludes such payments from the penalty provisions of section 5814.

[11/15] Lee v. West Kern Water Dist.
In a case involving the applicability of the workers' compensation exclusivity rule, which governs the matter of when an injured worker can bring a civil action against the employer and when he or she is instead limited to the remedy of a workers' compensation award, brought by a former employee against a water district and four coemployees, alleging assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress after the coemployees staged a mock robbery with plaintiff as the victim, the trial court's judgment is: 1) reversed as to the grant of defendants' motion for a new trial where the jury instructions were not erroneous, and alternative grounds for affirmance proposed by defendants lack merit; and 2) affirmed as to the order denying the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

[08/17] Kerrigan v. MSPB
In an appeal of a final decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board dismissing, for lack of jurisdiction, his claim that his workers' compensation benefits were improperly terminated in retaliation for protected whistleblowing activity, the Board's decision is affirmed where, although the Board incorrectly held that 5 U.S.C. section 8128(b) bars its review of petitioner's appeal, petitioner failed to make a nonfrivolous allegation that his protected disclosure was a contributing factor in the agency's action.

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